By Olakunle Olafioye
Israel Olusanya looked forward to starting a new day with vigour after a tiring but eventful day on Monday, May 29. The 46- year-old father of three had retired with his family early enough to their home on Olaiya Close, Erunwen, Ikorodu in anticipation of a restful night.
As a fish farmer, his daily routine started and ended with tending the fish in the ponds sited behind his residence and to keep records of the progress made on the fish ahead of harvest.
But just at the wee hours of Tuesday, May 30, a major tragedy which claimed the lives of four of the five members of the household befell the family. Unknown to the Olusanyas, agents of death had marked their home for their dreadful operation which sent the fish farmer, his pregnant wife, Rukayat and two of their children, Wale Olusanya, 11 and six-year-old Semilore Olusanya, to their early graves, while their eldest child, Tolu was left for dead.
The horrendous assignment was carried out without any telltale to their neighbours about the tragedy that had just befallen the Olusanyas until a colleague of Rukayat from the school where she worked as a teacher decided to check on her after repeated calls to her mobile line went unanswered.
The timely visit of Rukayat’s colleague saved the life of the eldest child of the Olusanyas, Tolu. The 15-year old who was battling for survival when help suddenly came was rushed to Lagos Teaching Hospital after sustaining a life threatening injury.
Although the perpetrators of the murderous act left the scene several hours before the crime was discovered, residents were able to point accusing fingers at members of dreaded badoo gang, a new cult group that has been terrorising communities in Ikorodu in the last one year.
Statistics of horror
The Erunwen tragedy of May 30 was one of the latest of the series of similar attacks allegedly perpetrated by the group in the last one year.
The reprehensible activities of the gang date back to July 2016 when people suspected to be members of the gang raped a 60-year-old Ghanaian identified as Francisca and brutalised her eight-month old daughter.
This incident was followed by a more horrendous attack on a family in Oluwoye community on October 21, 2016. The gang reportedly attacked a family, killing a pregnant woman identified as Afusat Yusuf, her husband, Kazeem, while their two children were injured.
Two months after the killing of the Yusufs, the gang again reportedly struck on Saka Adegbose Street on December 26, 2016, where they killed two siblings, Azeezat and Abeeb Oriade.
Again, three siblings were killed by people suspected to be members of the cult group on March 1, 2017, on Masafejo Street, Agbowa, Ikorodu, while similar havoc was wrecked by the gang on April 11, 2017, when a family of three was wiped out in Ibeshe Tuntun, also in Ikorodu.
A couple, Taofeek and Simiat Agbaje and two of their children also met their untimely death in the hands of people suspected to be members of the deadly group on May 4, 2017 when the gang stormed their residence at Adamo, Imota area of Ikorodu.
Most recently, members of the gang killed three persons inside a church at Owode- Ajegunle along Ikorodu on Tuesday, July 4. The cultists were said to have attacked Crystal Church of Christ (C&S) Aladura, at 4, Victoria Anibaba Street, Owode Weighbridge, along Ikorodu Road. Eyewitness account revealed that the assailants killed one woman and the two girls during the attack.
Gang’s modus operandi
From Ibeshe-Balogun to Agbowa, two of the communities where the horrendous activities of the reprehensible group were first recorded, reports of the dastardly acts of the gang came with a myth of mystiques laced with the trappings of rituals. But recent developments seem to have demystified trappings of invincibility woven around members of the gang.
Until recently, members of the gang were said to have gained entry into the abodes of their victims mysteriously without using the entrances. This claim has however been poo-pooed as the gang’s targets, according to checks by Sunday Sun are largely residents of houses without burglary proofs and weak windows and doors.
A resident of Erunwen community, Michael Olorunfemi, said those who attacked the Olusanya’s few weeks ago gained entry into their apartment after tearing up the window net.
Also a lucky resident who escaped the July 29 attack in Odogunyan Ikorodu, where another family of four was gruesomely murdered also confirmed that the assailants gained entry into his apartment through the window.
The man who was simply identified as Baba Chukwuemeka had reportedly raised the alarm which alerted neighbours who rushed to his apartment before the assailants took to their heels.
The alarmed neighbours would later discover that the assailants succeeded in wrecking havoc in the neighborhood with the killing of three members of the same family.
A man identified as David Ikehi, his wife Priscilla, and their son, Moses, were killed with a grinding stone. Another son, Sunday, was injured, while their two-year-old boy was declared missing. The bodies were found lying in their pool of blood, while Sunday was unconscious with a blood-stained grinding stone found in the premises.
Killings by the badoo gang are quite unmistakable. The gang members are notorious for the use of unconventional weapons such as grinding stones, pestles or other heavy objects in crushing their victims’ heads, before wiping their blood with white handkerchiefs.
The blood-soaked handkerchiefs, according to Chief Gani Adams, National Coordinator, Odua Peoples’ Congress, OPC are sold for as high as N500, 000 to N1.5m
Members of the dreaded gang also reportedly rape some of their female victims while they were reported to have ripped open the belly of a pregnant victim and made away with the foetus during one of their most chilling operations.
Besides the use of unconventional weapons, members of the cult group are said to always rub oil on their bodies while going for operations.
Security operatives’ helplessness
Until recently when the police announced the arrest of some suspected members of the dreaded group, residents of Ikorodu and environs had had to endure horrifying nights as the group launched attacks after attacks on helpless victims.
Aggrieved residents complained about the failure of the police to live up to the task of securing lives and property in the area despite their ubiquitous presence.
Many took a swipe at the police whom they accused of always extorting commercial motorcycle operators rather than secure the area.
Traditional institution in the community was not spared of the flaks following the relentless onslaughts of the criminal gang in the area.
Even with the police claiming to have arrested some suspects, not a few has expressed doubt about the capability of the force to tame the gang.
A resident, Abdulaziz Ganiu said the police have clearly demonstrated that the badoo gang challenge is far beyond their control.
“To be frank with you, I don’t think the Nigeria Police as it is, has what it takes to get those behind these senseless killings. We must understand that this is not a conventional crime so we shouldn’t expect magic from them. But having said this, the criminals often make use of objects like stones, mortars in killing their victims, which they usually leave behind. In other climes, these objects would have been used to unravel the brains behind the crimes. But then, you and I know that the difference between the current police and the ones left behind for us by our colonial masters is their uniforms and nothing else,” he said rather sarcastically.
Ganiu though admitted that getting the gang could be a herculean task, he reasoned that regular patrol of the area by the police would scare the criminals from the area. “In addition, the regular presence of police patrolling the communities will also help to scare the gang from Ikorodu,” he said.
Resort to Jungle Justice
The brazen helplessness displayed by the police despite repeated attacks has since snowballed into a major crisis. No fewer than seven people suspected to be members of the dreaded group have been lynched on suspicion of being members of the gang.
More disturbing is the fact that security operatives have been equally helpless in rescuing victims of mob action as irate mob often overpower them before giving the victims jungle justice.
Expectedly, people presumed to be innocent have fallen victims of the resort to self help. One of such victims was an upcoming comedian, Chinedu Paul popularly known as Think Twice.
A friend of the deceased comedian, Ajibolade Oluwafemi who posted the sad news on his Facebook page, said Paul was one of the three young men set ablaze in the early hours of Saturday, July 1, 2017, after they were mistaken for Badoo members.
According to Oluwafemi the deceased and his friends were accosted in an SUV shortly after he came back from a show.
He claimed that the late comedian’s car broke down and was taking his mechanics to get the vehicle towed when they were lynched by people who accused them of being members of the dreaded badoo gang.
Spiritual perspective on badoo
Foremost Ifa priest, Chief Yemi Elebuibon believes the badoo challenge is more of a spiritual problem, which according to him requires spiritual solution. According to him, those behind the killings are spiritual warriors and as such must be dealt with spiritually.
In line with his suggestion, traditionalists in Ikorodu, have in the last few weeks embarked on ritual of cleansing and freeing the community from the grip of evil warriors.
In his own reaction, a foremost Nigerian seer and Christian cleric, Primate Babatunde Elijah Ayodele said that the challenged posed by the badoo cult group could only be surmounted by fervent prayers.
“Let me say that the police have been trying their bit. They are not spirits, the residents are also doing their bit but the step they are supposed to take is to continue arranging prayer programmes involving churches and mosques and pray to God to arrest those behind the badoo killings.
“I said it in 2013 that terrorism is coming to Lagos. This is the part of terrorism. Yet we still need to be more security conscious in Lagos. There are other things that will follow, the security operatives just need to be ready to contain it. Christian association needs to come together, organize vigils for three days to make sure that badoo is rooted out of Ikorodu. I am telling Lagosians that very soon those behind it will be exposed and Ikorodu will be free from this crisis,” he assured.